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Three-in-10 say they could recycle more

Nearly three in 10 people acknowledge they do not recycle as much as they could, according to a survey published to mark National Recycle Week, now in its 13th year.

Reasons given for not doing more include too few collections and confusing information about recycling (see graphic).

According to the survey, which had more than 12,000 respondents in early August, younger people were the worst performers with only 57% of those aged 16-34 recycling everything.

The findings come from a poll conducted by Serco’s Environmental Services business and its research partner Future Thinking, with researchers questioning the means by which councils and service providers are communicating with their younger residents.

The poll shows that the likelihood of recycling increases with age, with 82% of 55 to 74-year-olds and 88% of over-75s saying they recycle all they can.

Serco is urging the waste industry to work with local authorities, retailers and manufacturers to standardise recycling communications, and develop a simpler labelling system for food and product packaging.

It says the partnership between the Government and the food industry to improve labelling and develop the ’traffic light’ system for food nutrition could be taken as an example of how simple, standardised information can support clearer communications and drive behaviour change.

Robin Davies, Serco’s business development director for environmental services, said: “Councils and service providers put a lot of effort into communicating guidelines to local residents, but their job would be made easier if we all worked together to simplify and standardise recycling information.

“Today’s ’millennials’ have grown up in a world where recycling is common practice, with ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ taught in schools, so it’s surprising that younger people are most confused. The poll suggests we look again at how we are communicating with this audience, especially when digital transformation is already high on the agenda of most local authorities.”

Claire Tyrrell-Williams, associate director at Future Thinking, said there was “a disconnect” between how much we want to recycle and how much we do recycle.

“Changing people’s behaviour and attitudes when it comes to recycling should be a priority. Providing people with the right tools and information, while making the most of the latest insights into human behaviour, is a crucial part of delivering a sustainable and environmentally-conscious future.”

More on National Recycle Week

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